The result might not have been a surprise for St Ives Town yesterday . . . but the manner of it didn’t please manager Ricky Marheineke.

St Ives Town man Edmund Hottor makes a challenge during their defeat at Peterborough Sports. Picture: JAMES RICHARDSONSt Ives Town man Edmund Hottor makes a challenge during their defeat at Peterborough Sports. Picture: JAMES RICHARDSON

Struggling Saints were cast seven points adrift of Southern League Premier Division Central safety by a 5-0 defeat at title-chasing Peterborough Sports.

The high flying hosts - managed by promotion-winning former Saints player Jimmy Dean - rarely had to ease out of second gear to climb into second position in the standings.

In fact the outcome was almost put beyond doubt in the space of 15 minutes as Saints' all-too-familiar defensive failings were again evident for all to see.

Sports striker Mark Jones helped himself to an early brace by pouncing from a Lewis Hilliard corner and then heading in a Dion Sembie-Ferris cross.

St Ives Town defender Tom Hamblin stops a Peterborough Sports attack. Picture: JAMES RICHARDSONSt Ives Town defender Tom Hamblin stops a Peterborough Sports attack. Picture: JAMES RICHARDSON

A third goal from Paul Malone - which also arrived from a corner taken by one-time Saints man Hilliard - five minutes before the break ended any remote hopes of a comeback.

Sports struck again midway through the second half through Josh Moreman before another ex-Ives man, Avelino Vieira, climbed off the bench to complete the scoring late on.

"It was always going to be a big ask to get anything given the positions of the two clubs in the table and the vastly different situations we're in," admitted Marheineke.

"Sports are right there in the thick of the title race while we're doing all we can just to stay in the division.

"We started the game well in the opening five minutes. We got into a couple of good positions and only a little lack of quality and poor decision-making cost us.

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"But conceding two goals so early on killed the game and you don't come back from that against a team of Sports' quality.

"Whether we lose 1-0, 5-0 or 10-0, it means the same thing - we get no points and have to dust ourselves down, learn from it and move on.

"We didn't win enough individual battles, we didn't win enough second balls and we weren't good enough and brave enough when defending at set-pieces.

"There were only three or four players who could walk off the pitch knowing they couldn't really have done much more for us.

"But the other seven or eight could have done a lot more and that's not something we can allow to happen when fighting to get out of the bottom three."

Marheineke handed new signing John Dean a debut as a late substitute while another attacking player, Matt Foy, was a late withdrawal from their squad due to personal reasons.

This Cambridgeshire derby defeat certainly won't be a defining result in Saints' season - but the outcome of their next two league games will have a huge impact on whether or not they survive.

Marheineke's men host second-bottom Alvechurch next Saturday and then face Leiston - the team directly above the drop-zone - in a re-arranged game the following Tuesday.

Before then, Saints go to Eynesbury Rovers on Tuesday for a Hunts Senior Cup semi-finals.

Godmanchester Rovers host Huntingdon Town in the other last-four clash on the same night.